The History of the Island of Van Diemen's Land, from the Year 1824 to 1835 Inclusive

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Van Diemen's Land was the name originally given to the island known today as Tasmania, Australia, and it was settled by the British in 1803 as a penal colony. Before writing this history of the island, the author, Henry Saxelby Melville (1799-1873), a journalist, was imprisoned in 1835 for contempt of court over an article he wrote about an ongoing trial. While experiencing the prison system at first hand, he completed this work, which examines the history of Van Diemen's Land, focusing on the period from 1824 to 1835, and offers harsh criticism of the colonial administration and penal reforms enacted by lieutenant-governor Colonel George Arthur (1784-1854). Melville also includes an essay of his views on the island's system of prison discipline. He initially had the book printed on the island, but later smuggled copies to London where it could be freely published and read.